“The situation at the Plett Airport whereby all commercial flights into Plettenberg Bay have been suspended by SACCA (South African Civil Aviation Authority) is extremely embarrassing and will create even more hardship for most of our dedicated community who rely on the hospitality industry as their main source of income. It’s shameful to the hard-working people of Plett, and it’s a slap-in-the-face to the Garden Route and the entire South African tourism industry,” comments Patty Butterworth (CEO Plett Tourism).
Plett Tourism is still awaiting clarity on the potential for a reversal of the SACCA decision. Should the outstanding issues that need to be addressed be dealt with immediacy and other less pressing matters followed through in a timely manner, there may be an opportunity for the suspension to be lifted in due course.
Immediate job loss includes Cemair employees stationed on the ground in Plettenberg Bay, there have been no job losses within the Bitou Municipality. More disturbing than job loss is the potential loss of economic value and income generation to the town. The closure of the commercial flights will negatively affect real estate, schools, restaurants, professional services, retail, and of course tourism.
The suspension affects all towns along the Garden Route as these flights are crucial for many businessmen and women in the area and for the tourism industry of neighboring towns and it also affects national tourism. With key stakeholders like WESGRO and SA Tourism focused on the Garden Route as a key selling point to the international trade, the suspension will be seen as a negative and may cause tour operators and travel professionals to re-think their itineraries when choosing South Africa.
Plett Tourism is hopeful that the possibility of mitigating this embarrassing and extremely irresponsible situation will be activated in a timely manner by all controlling parties.
The decision made by SACCA does not affect private and chartered flights.